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A Night With Warhol

I stepped into a brushed metal elevator. Once inside, all that stared back at me was a young woman dressed in black, sporting sunglasses and dark lipstick. Three floors up, the door opened. What greeted me was dim lighting, small tables covered with black linens, hors d’oeuvres, and lounge music. I had arrived at The Factory.

What once had been merely the third floor of the Plains Art Museum, had been transformed to channel the vibe of the infamous sixties and seventies haunt in order to welcome visitors to the opening of  “Andy Warhol: Creating Myth and Icon,” the first solo Warhol exhibition in the Fargo-Moorhead area. The exhibit is comprised of over 30 prints from the collection of Wesley and Missy Cochran.

Warhol himself once said, “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.”  As the viewers walk from piece to piece, they become intimately acquainted with the spirit of Warhol and his work. I was particularly touched by the “Myths” series in which Warhol engages the powerful and enchanting characters that have entered into the fabric of American culture and mythos, such as Santa Claus, Uncle Sam, and even Dracula.

This exhibit is particularly distinctive in its aim to
engage its audience. Opening night featured a performance piece by Heather Zinger. With help from sponsor Sundog Marketing, there have been interactive displays that allow the viewer to “Warholize” a photo of themselves. Upon entering the exhibit, we received buttons with one of the letters of “Warhol.” I received an ‘H’. In the gallery, pads of posters bearing the same letters were arranged as a piece of art themselves and visitors were welcomed to tear off one to bring home. Here I opted for an ‘O’. The curation team’s explicit hope to engage the audience makes Warhol’s work more than static pieces of an icon to gaze upon, but rather an opportunity for discourse.

I would highly encourage anyone to visit this captivating and well-executed exhibit; it will be running in the Plains Arts Museum located at 704 First Ave. N, Fargo through May 19th.

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